Twelve Days of Christmas
Ballantine / October 4, 2016 / $20.00 print, $10.99 digital
There are two types of Christmas romance novels. One has a Christmas/holiday theme, and the other just takes place around the holidays. Of course both are nice, but ones with the theme definitely put readers in a holiday mood. Debbie Macomber’s Twelve Days of Christmas explores the theme of kindness and will certainly put you in that mood.
Julia Padden is a paragon. She elected to work at Macy's and go to school part-time rather than rack up a large student loan debt. She also is very active in her church, and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club. She is cheerful, kind and seems to be always in a good mood. She is the perfect person to rub a grinch the wrong way.
And that is exactly what she does to Cain Maddox. Julia's bubbly personality is like a screech down a blackboard to him—flashing out warning, warning, danger. He’s learned his lesson, and he’s not going to fall victim to her attractive nature or looks. He has rebuffed her several times, but she still seems to be hitting on him.
After an especially chilling (as in brrrrrr cold) encounter with Cain, Julia complains about him to her best friend, Cammie:
“Cain Maddox? He’s cold Cammie. You haven’t seen him. I have. Trust me—he’s not the kind of man you’d want to meet in a dark alley.” . . .
Cammie laughed out loud. “Your creative imagination is getting away from you, my friend.”
“Maybe, but I doubt it.”
“It’s the look in his eyes, like he sees straight through people.”
“You’ve noticed his eyes?”
“Yes, they’re brown and dark. Real dark and distant. “Okay Cammie was probably right. To see him in criminal terms was a bit of a stretch, but Julia wasn’t exactly having warm, cozy feelings toward her neighbor.
“If that’s the case, then I think you should kill him,” Cammie suggested.
Julia gasped. She couldn’t believe her bestie would even hint at such a thing. “Kill him with kindness,” Cammie elaborated.
It has been difficult watching her friends climb corporate ladders —making their mark in their careers, while she worked as a sales clerk, but now Julia has finally gotten her degree, and applied for the perfect job. She and one other person have made it through the selection process. Since the position is in social media, the company has given them both a challenge—create a blog and the individual with the largest following will be given the position. Cammie suggests that since it is twelve days until Christmas, Julia should make a play on the well known phase, and write about her efforts to kill her neighbor with kindness. Since Julia hasn’t been able to create much interest in her blog so far, she agrees to give it a try.
Poor Julia, she didn’t realize that when she accepted the challenge how much Cain would “try her soul" and her patience. She has to dig really deep to treat Cain with kindness:
His eyes snapped with irritation.
“What can I do for you?” she asked, doing her best to remain pleasant.
He continued to glare at her, his scowl darkening his already shady eyes. It was a shame, too-he was an attractive man, or he could be if he wasn’t constantly frowning..
“Is anyone dying in here? Because that’s what it sounds like.”
Holding her temper was a challenge. “Are you referring to my singing?”
“Tone. It. Down.”
Of course that is not the worst of it. In desperation, after being the tale-end of Julia’s kindness campaign for several days, Cain brings out the big guns:
“Are you stalking me”
“You think I’m stalking you?” The idea was so ludicrous she burst out laughing. If the twitch in his jaw was anything to go by, Cain wasn’t amused.
“I find it all too convenient that you seem to turn up everywhere I do. First it’s at Starbucks, then the lobby when I’m collecting my mail. And what’s the deal with you just happening to be at the elevator every morning?”
“I can’t even shop without running into you. “I don’t know how you planned all this, but I want it to stop and I want it to stop now.”
Kindness for personal gain is a bit of a downer, and in today’s competitive nature, Julia’s blog probably couldn’t create much interest – and you know that the blog is going to come back and bite Julia in a big way – which it does.
Still the message of kind-heartedness and doing generous, and thoughtful things for others, is on-point. Fans of Macomber will welcome her warm reminder, gentle message, and sweet romance.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber, available October 4, 2016:
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